On the Mystical Element in Moral Offense: An Existential Inquiry

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Moral violation often takes the form of material harm, which might lead us to suppose that it consists essentially in the harm done. And yet we might suffer the same harm through nature or accident without feeling morally offended. If a hurricane destroys my property, I suffer harm but no offense. If another person deliberately damages my property, I am offended. But why? Wherein lies the difference? My essay employs Arthur Schopenhauer’s ethic of egoism and Paul Tillich’s theology of love to explore the ontological basis of moral offense. I argue that moral offense has its roots, not in a concern for material well-being, but in a fundamental drive for Unity, unity with others and with our own ontological ground. This drive is both conditioned by, and frustrated by, our ontological separateness as individual beings.
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First archival date: 2016-05-02
Latest version: 8 (2019-01-27)
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